1 May 2013

The University of Queensland celebrated the graduation of almost 100 Rotary Peace Fellows - many of whom are now working on peace and rebuilding projects around the world.

The achievement came on the tenth anniversary of The Rotary Centre for International Studies in peace and conflict resolution at UQ, which was marked at the 2013 Rotary Peace Fellows’ Seminar on Saturday, April 20.

The UQ Rotary Peace Centre is one of only six worldwide and is aimed at potential world and community leaders.

Peace Fellows study a tailored Master’s program in International Studies -Peace and Conflict Resolution, designed to have a practical effect on addressing international and regional conflicts.

Peace Fellows typically work in the areas of government, economic development, mediation, human rights and peace-building, after completing a tailored Masters program in International Peace and Conflict Resolution.

Graduate Peace Fellow Path Heang, a survivor of the Pol Pot atrocities in Cambodia, credits these qualifications for selection as zone chief for United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Cambodia.

‘The program equipped me with the knowledge and skills to enable me to do my work with UNICEF,” Path said.

This year’s Peace Fellows come from the USA, Nepal, Burma, Iceland, India, Germany, Colombia, Iran, Uganda, Brazil, Hungary, Switzerland, Belgium, Palestine and Greece.

Each year up to a dozen international students are fully funded by the Rotary Foundation to undertake the program at UQ.

During their studies, they undertake applied fieldwork in organisations and charities around the world, and those experiences form the backbone for presentations at the annual seminar.

Peace Fellow Naing Koko was a political prisoner in his native Myanmar (also known as Burma) for seven years, and spent most of his time in solitary confinement.

He is now actively working to develop expertise in governance and economic development in order to make a positive contribution when he returns to his home country.

“What I have learned while in Australia will be useful as we move towards democracy in Myanmar,” he said.

Omayma Sawaed, a lawyer and Palestinian Citizen of Israel, has recently started the program.

Her interest in peace and conflict resolution is in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian situation and her goal is to become involved in the peace process.

“The skills I hope to acquire from UQ’s program will be invaluable in working towards that goal,” she said.

She holds a Master’s Degree in Human Rights and Democratisation.

For more information please visit www.uq.edu.au/rotary

For a video looking back over the past ten years of UQ’s Rotary Peace Centre visit: http://www.polsis.uq.edu.au/index.html?page=195760

Media: Gillian Ievers, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Science, 07 3365 7436 or 33653308 or g.ievers@uq.edu.au